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Programs : Brochure

This is the program brochure page.
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description


White House Group

US Capitol

Students participating in the McCain Institute Policy Design Studio & Internship Program intern four days a week at an organization of interest to them (options include, but are not limited to, federal departments and agencies, law firms, lobbying and consulting firms, advocacy groups, media outlets, museums, think tanks, and non-profit organizations). Students also participate in a weekly seminar at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, taught by McCain Institute staff, in which they will research solutions to real world foreign policy issues. In addition, students will visit government agencies, historical sites, and attend networking events. This is a fantastic opportunity for students in any program, undergraduate or graduate, to gain valuable skills and hands-on work experience.  

Quick Facts

  • Live and intern in Washington DC for the semester, study how public policy is made, and earn 12 upper division credits!

  • For students with interest in international relations, a strong work ethic and a passion for new ideas and experiences.

  • Deadline: Apply by May 18!

Application Requirements

To apply for this program, click the "Apply Now" button above. This will generate an online application with the requirements listed below. Please also refer to the "Academics" tab for specific eligibility information. Note: Non-ASU students should consult these instructions before applying.


DC Reflection Pond


Location Details

Washington, DC is awash with sites to see from the famous icons of the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial to the 555-foot Washington Monument where you can get great views of the city. Beyond the inspiring monuments, many colorful and diverse neighborhoods offer hip new restaurants and bars, stunning hotels, great nightlife, live music and theatres. (Courtesy of Lets Go)

Washington, DC is a city of colourful and diverse neighbourhoods, filled with shops and galleries, historic homes and small museums, urban parks and spectacular gardens. It is awash with sites to see from the famous icons of the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial to the 555-foot Washington Monument where you can get great views of the city. Beyond the inspiring monuments, the many colourful and diverse neighbourhoods have been revitalised to offer hip new restaurants and bars, stunning hotels, great nightlife, live music and theatres. (Courtesy of Lets Go)


Eligibility Requirements

Students must have completed at least 60 hours of coursework at ASU by the end of the semester in which they apply (exceptions may be made for transfer students) and a 3.0 GPA.


Undergraduate students will earn 12 upper division POS credits for their participation, which can count toward upper division major and/or general elective requirements.
POS 484: ASU-McCain DC Internship I (6 credits)
POS 484: ASU McCain Institute Internship II (3 credits)
POS 494: McCain Institute Policy Design (3 credits)

Graduate students will earn 9 graduate POS credits for their participation
POS 584: ASU-McCain DC Internship I (6 credits)
POS 598: McCain Institute Policy Design (3 credits)

McCain Institute Policy Design Course:
Students participate in a weekly seminar at the McCain Institute and research solutions to real-world foreign policy issues. Under the supervision of senior director Ambassador Michael C. Polt, and working directly with a retired Ambassador as an adjunct faculty member, students are immersed in a highly creative and intense exercise of learning the process of foreign policy decision making. Students are constituted as a U.S. Embassy staff to a specific country and manage a reality-based diplomatic agenda. They are assigned the actual roles of embassy team members, and together with Ambassador Polt practice how foreign policy is developed and executed in the field. Through research, design and class discussion, participants create a data set relevant to foreign policy implementation, visualized using the McCain Institute’s Decision Theater.

Examples of Past Student Internship Placements:

  • International Republican Institute
  • Business Executives for National Security
  • Federal District Court – Judge Grimm
  • Offices of Congressmen: Joe Wilson, Tom O’Halloran, Paul Gosar
  • Washington D.C. Mayor’s Executive Office
  • Secular Coalition for America
  • Middle East Institute
  • McCain Institute
  • Center for New American Security
  • Center for Budget & Policy Priorities
  • Smithsonian Museum
  • Law Offices of Paul Strauss & Assoc., P.C.
  • Brookings Institute
  • US Dep. of State
  • US Dep. of Justice
  • National Defense University
  • Office of Inspector General

Application Process

In addition to completing the program application, students will need to submit two recommendation forms from academic or professional references, an unofficial transcript, and clear scans of a student ID and a government issued ID. Once applications are reviewed, students will interview with a selection committee.

Group Class

National Gallery



Internship Coordinator

Ms. Gisela Grant
GCDF Internship Coordinator & Global Career Development Facilitator

Design Studio Policy Faculty

Ambassador Michael C. Polt 
Senior Director at the McCain Institute for International Leadership

Ambassador Edward B. O'Donnell
Professor of the McCain Institute Washington Policy Design Studio

McCain Classroom


Group in front of Monument

Program Housing

Students will live at the Washington Intern Student Housing at Woodley Park. The apartments house six students each and have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. All apartments are furnished and include utilities, AC, wireless internet, cable TV, cookware, dishware, and daily maintenance. Amenities include on-site staff, a computer lab, and access to social events. The apartments are centrally located, two blocks from the National Zoo and two blocks from the Metro. It is one Metro stop from Dupont Circle, three stops from downtown Washington DC and the White House, and six stops from Capitol Hill.

Special Considerations

Below you will find information that may help you in planning for your study abroad experience. Early discussions and planning can help to support you in having a positive experience abroad. We invite you to meet with the International Coordinator for this program to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Physical Considerations

Study abroad participants may find themselves walking or taking public transit abroad more frequently than they are accustomed at their home campus.

Disability Accommodations Abroad

Individuals with disabilities can and do study abroad, but may find accessibility and accommodation in one of more of this program’s locations very different from the United States.  

In general, the Study Abroad Office cannot guarantee access to public transportation, buildings, or public sites on this program. Any student who anticipates needing any kind of special accommodation due to a disability should contact the ASU Study Abroad Office early in the planning process to investigate the availability of accommodations (including accessible facilities) on this specific program. Contact the Disability Resource Center and your Disability Access Consultant to include them in the discussion; be sure to give your Disability Access Consultant permission to speak with the Study Abroad Office on your behalf. You can find additional information and resources on our Students with Disabilities page.

LGBTQIA Students Abroad

Students of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities will find that the social climate, laws, and norms of other cultures will often differ from the U.S. If you identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer student - or if you are still exploring your identity - you may face unique challenges when traveling abroad.  

We encourage students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA community to visit the U.S. Department of State website for helpful information about laws and attitudes in this program’s locations, including pre-travel tips and advice on staying safe while abroad. You can find additional information and resources on our LGBTQIA Students page.

Gender Identity Abroad

When traveling abroad, you may find different gender roles and norms than you’re used to. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on your (or their) gender identity.  

You can find additional information and resources on our Gender Identity Abroad page.

Racial and Ethnic Minorities Abroad

Students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds may encounter unique challenges transitioning from life here in the United States to life as a student living abroad, including but not limited to access to personal care products and services.

You can prepare yourself for the situations you may experience by researching the ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations. We encourage students to start that research on our Racial and Ethnic Minority Students page.


Cost Information

The program fee for Fall 2020 is $5,860.

This price includes: program fees, housing, business cards, three group meals and one excursion. Not included: ASU tuition and student fees, airfare, daily meals, personal expenses, accident/illness insurance, or non-program related optional excursions. The Spring 2021 program fee is TBD. This price includes: program fees, housing, business cards, three group meals and one excursion. Not included: ASU tuition and student fees, airfare, daily meals, personal expenses, accident/illness insurance, or non-program related optional excursions.

Study Abroad Office program participants are also responsible for paying a non-refundable $50 Application Fee, in addition to the Program Fee listed above. All other costs associated with participation in the program are the responsibility of the individual student. Be sure to reference the program cost sheet for fall or spring for information on program fees and any additional estimated expenses.

The program may allow for time which can be spent in non-program activities. Participants may wish to travel, sight-see or participate in activities or events in which they have a personal interest. Please note that the participant is fully responsible for making arrangements and for all costs of transportation, lodging, food and additional expenses that may be associated with any non-Program activities.


Funding Your Program

Participating in a Domestic Global Learning (DGL) program is an investment in your future, which requires careful planning and management. However, the personal, academic, and professional rewards that you will gain from this experience will last a lifetime. You should carefully consider costs, budgets and financing when selecting and preparing for your experience. If you have questions at any step of the process, we encourage you to reach out to your International Coordinator for guidance.

Steps to Financing Your Study Abroad Office Program

  1. View the program Cost Sheet to find a breakdown of program expenses.
  2. Attend a Financing Your Study Abroad Workshop.
  3. Consider your Financial Aid options.
  4. Search and Apply for Scholarships and Grants.
  5. Exhaust your options by exploring Additional Funding Resources including our Community-Based Funding Guide.
  6. View our  Financing Your Study Abroad Program Handbook for more information, including Payment Information.

Unique Opportunities for Funding

  • ASU Tuition Waiver may be applied on this program to cover the tuition associated with this program.  The ASU Tuition Waiver cannot be used to subsidize the posted program fee.


Links to Additional Resources

*ASU Study Abroad Office does not officially endorse, administer or monitor the content of these links.

Student Perspectives

Maya Perez, Fall 2019 Participant
“Interning in D.C. and participating in the McCain Policy Design Studio has made me a uniquely special candidate for whatever I apply to after graduation. This experience was totally worth it. It taught me so many things not only about political culture, professional environments, but also about myself and my goals for the future."

Matthew Jernstedt, Spring 2018 Participant
"The McCain Institute Policy Design Studio gave me the confidence to commit to a career in diplomacy. Where else can students learn from distinguished diplomats while interning in our nation’s capitol? While studying under Ambassador O'Donnell, I learned more about the art of diplomacy and how government agencies, the military, and the private sector interact in our efforts overseas. This program demonstrates the value of SPGS as a global institution, and I could not recommend it more highly to students."

David Okinyi, Spring 2018 Participant
"The McCain Institute program offers the experience any student would want. The connections in D.C, support for the internship, and the teamwork in the classes is beyond what a normal class provides.  I'm glad I was a participant and ended up staying in D.C for almost a year. My internship turned into a paid position. I would highly recommend this program to any student."

Michael Michaud, Spring 2018 Participant
"Participating in the McCain Institute Policy Design Studio and Internship program proved to be nothing short of a game-changer for me. I arrived in Washington, DC with a very clear path ahead in mind and I left with a completely different one. I couldn't be more thankful for that. The first-hand experiences I had in class and at my internship gave me valuable insight into who I was and what I really wanted to do. The professional networks and relevant skills that I built led to a fantastic job and reliable connections I know I can call upon in the future. It is no exaggeration to say that this program has changed my life for the better and I know I am not alone in that sentiment."

Dates & Deadlines
Dates & Deadlines
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall Semester 2020 05/18/2020
Rolling Admission 08/16/2020 12/05/2020
NOTE: Dates are subject to change. Do not purchase airfare until dates are confirmed by the Study Abroad Office and/or in any host institution acceptance materials.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision tasks prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.